The Race

‘Round the Rock

Northern California’s Premiere Outrigger Canoe Race

The ‘Round the Rock: Alcatraz Challenge offers three exciting and competitive courses on the central San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Courses are designed to provide great racing; spectacular and dynamic views of San Francisco landmarks; and to take advantage of tides and currents while ensuring the safety of the participants. This event is hosted by Heʻe Nalu O Marin Outrigger Canoe Club, a proud member of the Northern California Outrigger Association (NCOCA).


Registration will open Monday, July 29, 2024.


Saturday, August 3, 2024

  • 6:00 am — Park gates open
  • 7:00 am — Crew registration opens
  • 8:00 am — Safety meeting
  • 8:15 am — Opening ceremony
  • 9:00 am — Short course start
  • 10:15 am — Long course women/coed start
  • 11:30 am — Short course awards ceremony
  • 12:15 pm — Long course men start
  • 3:15 pm — Long course awards ceremony

Course Maps

Short Course

Approximately 5 miles. Best suited for keiki, novice, and intermediate paddlers who can stretch themselves with variable conditions. The short course runs between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, offering a challenging course while minimizing the influence of wind and current.

Long Course

Approximately 10-12 miles. Suited for experienced crews and steers-people familiar with challenging conditions. The long course will challenge the crews with wind, strong currents, sail-ferry-boat traffic, and unforgettable views. Starting under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the long course takes you around Alcatraz Island and along the city waterfront.

Note: Course length & path are subject to change based on conditions. ALL canoes must stay a minimum of 500’ from Alcatraz Island, violators will incur a time penalty. Cutting through Aquatic Park is prohibited.


Short Course (5-mile)

  • Keiki Girls, Keiki Boys, Keiki Coed (Unlimited/Spec)
  • Novice Women, Novice Men, Novice Coed (Unlimited/Spec)
  • Women, Men, Coed Open (Unlimited/Spec)

Long Course (12-mile)

  • Women:
    • Open (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 40 (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 50 (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 60 (Unlimited/Spec)
  • Coed:
    • Open (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 40 (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 50 (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 60 (Unlimited/Spec)
  • Men:
    • Open (Unlimited/Spec)
    • Master 40 (Unlimited, Spec)
    • Master 50 (Unlimited, Spec)
    • Master 60 (Unlimited, Spec)

Race Site

Crissy Field East Beach, San Francisco


Please follow directions from our parking guides to minimize the impact on the park. Please encourage carpooling as parking is limited. East Crissy Beach parking is free. Vehicles parked on the berms will be ticketed.

Canoe trailer parking in the traffic-coned dirt area on the left upon entry; see race site map.


  1. Anyone under the age of 13 must wear a PFD (life jacket).
  2. Spray skirts are mandatory.
  3. Due to Coast Guard restrictions on time, any crew in the second race not completing the first half of the course within a reasonable distance from the pack will be turned for an early return.
  4. Conditions in San Francisco Bay include strong tidal currents, wind, fog, freight, ferry, and fishing vessels, fishing lines, sailing yachts, sightseeing ships, sea lions, seals, and swimmers. Capable crews and experienced steerspeople a must!

San Francisco Bay is a world-class water sports venue. Sailors, paddlers, swimmers, and fishermen revel in the dynamic Bay environment. With its beauty and opportunity, the Bay also challenges sportsmen with strong currents, high winds, rough and cold water, and lots of commercial, sail, and pleasure vessel traffic. Early on most summer mornings, the Bay is calm with winds under 7 knots. By about noon on almost every day, a west wind of 20 to 25 knots will funnel through the Golden Gate stirring the Central Bay into a tempest of rough, cold water. The Alcatraz Challenge race courses are designed for varying levels of ability – but it’s imperative that crews take appropriate measures to choose the appropriate course commensurate with their level; prepare themselves to be safe, and understand the race-day environment before they get on the water.

There is something for everyone in this race, from paddler to onlooker: great scenery, exciting water, good competition, and a world-class City to experience. The pay-off for preparation and participation is tremendous, but safety is our first concern. He’e Nalu and NCOCA will furnish an experienced, expert platoon of safety boats who will monitor the entire course. However, we expect all crews to take first responsibility for being prepared and for being accountable for the safety of their crew. To ensure a great experience and to maximize your performance we recommend these safety measures:

  1. Set crews for courses appropriate for the ability of the crew and the steersperson. Novices should race on the shorter course. More experienced paddlers are welcome to try any course as long as they understand the challenge.
  2. Spray skirts are required. Wind, waves, currents, cold water, vessel traffic, and seawalls can create rough to very rough conditions on the longer courses. These conditions are well within the abilities of veteran crews and steers-people but must not be taken for granted. In some parts of the Bay along the seawalls on the City front, crews on the Long Course have reported waves coming into the boat from both sides. Ferry wakes can create confused waves of five to six feet. Strong wind and opposing current can create a short, nasty two to three-foot chop known locally as “square waves” because they sometimes seem to leap straight into the air. Spray skirts must be used.
  3. Know your huli drill. Boats huli (capsize/turn over) every year in this race. San Francisco Bay water is cold even in summer (55 degrees). You don’t want to be in the water any longer than you have to be. Practice multiple times in advance of the race.
  4. Think clearly about how this race might be different from what you are used to. Local paddlers know our water, how to dress appropriately and how rough and cold conditions can be. In contrast, if you paddle in Southern California, it will be rougher and colder than what you’re used to. If you race in Hawaiʻi, it may not be rougher but some of the race will be upwind, it likely will be colder and currents will play a factor. Bring warmer layers than you think you’ll need for paddling and street clothes, along with your regular gear. You’ll have to dress more warmly than usual if the weather is not as expected, but at least you’ll be prepared.
  5. We look forward to helping you understand our environment. Please reach out before the race; we will help you paddle safely so that your crew can have a fabulous race and a terrific experience on our exciting waters.


The race launches from Crissy Field, a stunning park site within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field’s 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline offers beautiful views, bicycle and walking trails, abundant wildlife viewing, and is a favorite place for kitesurfers.

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